Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Here's Something I've Never Seen Before

I'm on the road again this week. Chattanooga, then Morristown, then back to Chattanooga. Sunday afternoon, as we were passing through Hendersonville, NC, we stopped to get something to drink at a convenience store. On the counter near the register, there was a covered box with a sign that said, "Individual Cigarettes, 25 cents."

You have to need a shot of nicotine bad if you can't afford a whole pack, but will spend one of your last remaining quarters on one. Apparently, there is a market.

Thank God I was never able to cultivate a cigarette habit. I tried once, back in my stupidity-rich twenties when I had several thin friends who smoked and looked sophisticated (right) with a cigarette between their long, fake-nail-tipped fingers. I thought smoking might alleviate some of my stress eating. Fortunately, I despised cigarette smoke too much to make that work for me, and eventually grew out of my idiot phase.

But you know that's got to be a powerful addition when people in dire straights will spend a quarter for a cigarette when four quarters will get you a hamburger off the Wendy's value menu.

One of the perks to traveling with Jim is that I get a free USA today delivered to my door every morning. Yesterday, one of the big stories was the case of a janitor in Oregon who died in 1997 after smoking three packs a day for forty years. A jury found that, while he was partly liable for his own death, Jesse Williams was influenced by the decades-long campaign by cigarette manufacturer Phillip Morris to discredit emerging evidence that cigarettes caused lung cancer. The jury awarded his widow $79.5 million in punitive damages. Phillip Morris, naturally, appealed, and the case has made its way to the Supreme Court.

I'm normally an advocate of personal responsibility. I've always held the opinion that there's enough evidence that cigarettes are very, very bad for you, and if you choose to smoke, and you get cancer you have no one to blame but yourself. I also think folks who sue McDonald's for making unhealthy food are idiots, no offense.

But Jesse Williams didn't grow up in the same era that I did. He, from all accounts, genuinely believed that "they wouldn't sell them if they were bad for you." I hope Mayola Williams gets every dime of that $97.5 million.

And I hope that someone finds a better use for tobacco than smoking it. Because I grew up in North Carolina, where big tobacco lives, and I don't want to see a lot of folks out of work. But corporations with A-list lobbyists shouldn't be allowed to put whatever they put in cigarettes that entices people down to their last few dollars to pay a quarter for a cigarette.

Why not just legalize every other addictive, life-destroying substance?

Besides, second-hand smoke gives me a migraine.

Peace, out...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

An Experiment in Travelcise

I know I rag on Casey, The Queen of Pain, a lot. But she really is sweet. Except when she's causing you intense pain by insisting that you do things with your body that The Good Lord never intended--just so y'all know, the laws of physics dictate that I cannot put weights on this chest and do sit-ups. Or when she has the microphone and thinks of some bit of entertaining sarcasm at your expense. Frequently, the pain and the sarcasm are delivered simultaneously. But I digress...she's sweet, really.

Like just this morning, knowing that I am in a hotel room somewhere in rural Alabama and thus unable to report for torture, she emailed me a link to download Jazzercise podcasts, especially designed for the traveler. Frequently I have lamented to Her Royal Agony that I need a DVD of her toture sessions--I mean class--so I can Jazzercise while traveling. I knew it wouldn't be Casey (or Myra, Diane, Wendy, Julie, Donna, Jenny or Michelle) on the podcast, but I thought, "Hey, why not give it a try?" So I did.

The first obstacle was an educational one. I am (while not computer illiterate) somewhat behind the times. In my world, podcast = ipod = Apple computers. I have an IBM Thinkpad. So, I followed the link the QOP sent, went to the Jazzercise site, clicked iTunes, and got the scoop. I know, I'm behind.

It took me a while to download and install the software. Software that is Apple derivative has a somewhat different look and feel than that which is IBM derivative. Anyway, I got that done, went back to the Jazzercise site and downloaded the five available podcasts. So far so good.

It wasn't intuitively obvious how to start this stuff up after it was loaded, but finally, in a box so small I had to get out a magnifying glass, Shanna Missett Nelson, daughter of Jazzercise founder Judi Sheppard Missett, appeared. Now Shanna, like her mother, looks like your stereotypical aerobics instructor. Perfect, right down to the hair and makeup. At least that's how she looked in the little box with my magnifying glass. I tried making the box bigger, but every time I tried, the whole shebang locked up and I had to start Shanna over.

For authenticity, they taped these podcasts in actual hotel rooms. Shanna demonstrated the first exercise, using a hotel room chair. Now, her chair was not exactly like mine: mine has wheels--it's a desk chair. But I thought maybe it would work. This was foolishness.

I sat on the edge of the chair, just like Shanna demonstrated, and put my hands on the seat. But just as I lowered my VOLUPTUOUS derriere for the first of ten reps of some strange variation of a pushup, the chair rolled backwards, slamming against the wall, and I landed with a loud thud on the floor. The two ladies who were cleaning the room next door came running. They knocked on the door, yelling "housekeeping!" Evidently they couldn't hear me calling back that everything was okay--or didn't understand what I was saying--so they used the pass key and came on in.

By this time, I had picked myself up and was limping towards the door. They looked around the room a little curiously, and asked (I'm guessing here) if I was all right. Their English was limited to the words"housekeeping", "towels", and "have a nice day." My Spanish is limited to "taco," "burrito," and "chimichanga." I pointed to Shanna in her little box, but they weren't curious enough to come see what was on my computer screen. Who knows what they've seen on other laptops left open in guest rooms. They backed out of the room, no doubt wondering what in the name of common sense I'd been doing.

Okay, so my first session of Travelcise didn't go smoothly. But as soon as I purchase a tube (looks like a jump rope, only made out of rubber) --which I need for the next exercise in the set, I'll give it another go. Meanwhile, maybe I'll hop on that treadmill downstairs. After I finish editing a short story and ice my bruise. Maybe.

Peace, out...

Monday, October 23, 2006

Coming Up For Air

Hey y'all. Sorry it's been a while. I'm still writing, still VOLUPTUOUS, and still trying to grow in the former area and shrink in the latter. But things have been hectic lately. I'm a volunteer for the South Carolina Writer's Workshop, and we just had our annual conference this weekend in Myrtle Beach. Actually, to be accurate, I'm on the board of directors, and this year, my assigned task was door prizes and auction items.

Now, if you think about it--and I have, trust me, given this a great deal of thought--it is moronic to sell things to raise money to help support the organization while simultaneously giving stuff away. But we do it. Every year. And by golly, if I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it right. So this year we gave away a ton of stuff. And we sold a ton of stuff. And I'm exhausted.

Writer's conferences are a fantastic way to invest in your development as a writer. I've been to a few over the last several years, and it's incredible how much you soak up, especially from the social events. Just being around a bunch of literary types gets your creative engine all revved up. And it's amazing how generous successful authors, editors and agents are when dealing with crowds of writers who just have one quick question that takes 20 minutes.

Anyway, the conference was a success, and this week I'm traveling with Jim. We're in some corner of Alabama that I was previously unfamiliar with, about an hour outside of Birmingham. I plan to catch up on sleep, writing, and reading.

I'll catch up on Jazzercise next week. Hopefully I'll still be able to fit in my clothes by then. I've been stress eating a lot. Yeah, I know, Diane...There's no way I'll catch up now.

But we had a lot of door prizes.

Peace, out...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Myra's School of Pole Dancing

Myra's getting ready to run another promotion. One of those, "Haul your friends in here and blackmail them with whatever you've got on them until they sign up and we'll give you a T-shirt" deals. My friends are either already dancing their little hearts out, have been and refuse to go back (for various ridiculous excuses like 'the surgeon told me I can't yet'), or they live out of town. I won't be getting that T-shirt (or whatever), and I suspect that most of the current students face the same dilemma.

But I have a better idea for Myra. Change the name to reflect what we really do in there. Women go to Jazzercise to let their hair down and dance. We shimmy, we bump, we grind... we shake what our mamma's gave us. And we take these talents home with us. Our husbands are lucky men. If the sign on the door said "Myra's School of Pole Dancing," the men of Greer/Taylors would be signing their wives up in droves.

Now, granted, their may be some fallout from local churches. Greer/Taylors is definitely a conservative area. And, as I have said before, Myra is a Christian woman, as is... well, everybody that I personally know. So the sign would have to reflect the fact that we use our skills only for the entertainment of the men we are legally married to. Maybe, "Myra's Christian School of Pole Dancing and Marital Therapy."

We might need to play with it a little bit. Y'all let me know what you think.

Note: In response to several questions, I would like to add that at no time do we remove any of our clothes while Jazzercising. Well, except for the occasional sweatshirt. This is completely wholesome pole dancing.

Peace, out...

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Deadlines, Commitments and Ailments, Oh My!

I confess...I have been very, very slack in the exercise department for the last two weeks. My VOLUPTUOUS figure has not graced the dance floor all week this week, and last week was spotty at best. But, as always, I have many reasons (not to be confused with excuses).

First off, I had several deadlines for submitting stories that came all at once. And, since I am trying, oh so very hard to become a PAID writer, I must submit. I mean, the blog is great, but it well, doesn't pay much, and most agents and editors like to see publishing credits before they'll take on your novel. So, there were deadlines...

And, there were commitments. And, by this, I don't mean that I was committed to a mental facility, although, one could make an argument that such a thing is in order. Thus far I have successfully avoided the men in white coats. But I have had other things on my to-do list, like fluff the house umpteen times so a realtor could show it. Did I mention our house was on the market? I can't remember. Anyway, here's how this works: They call, I clean and try to make the house look like no one lives here, then I have to leave and go elsewhere for an hour or two so they can show it. It's really fun when I spend several hours getting the house ready, drive around for a couple of hours--because, after all that house cleaning, I'm sweaty and icky and not fit to go in anywhere--and then they don't show up.

Under the ailments category, somehow week before last I did something to my knee, my right foot and my neck. Probably this was due to the transition from vacation to trying to make up for vacation a little too abruptly. Perhaps I should have eased back into Jazzercise more gradually. Bodysculpt followed by a regular Jazzercise class two days week before last was the culprit, I think. My body was not ready to be sculpted.

Anyway, I didn't sleep hardly at all last night, and I when I did, I had a horrible nightmare. I was in surgery (some chest or abdominal thing was being cut on). I got straight up from the operating table and went to Jazzercise in my hospital gown. The Queen of Pain was there, and she cracked on me severely because I had missed a class while being cut open and stitched back shut. She was not impressed by my REASON. I slunk out of there in shame. I'm not sure what to make of the dream, but I think my body is going in to dance withdrawal. I've got to get back on track. I'm thinking the score right now is Demon Diane 103, Susan 4.

But today, there's this deadline...

Peace, out...

Monday, September 18, 2006

Spa Day

It occurred to me that in all the excitement before vacation, I neglected to tell y'all about my spa day. Well, I told y'all I was going for my pre-vacation spa day, but I never told y'all about my experience at one of our local establishments of bliss and beauty.

I was all signed up for a Day of Beauty. This package includes all the usual services: waxing (all the relevant body parts--although you will not catch me getting a Brazilian wax), massage, aromatherapy scalp massage, Dead Sea salt rub, champagne lunch, facial, manicure (with paraffin treatment), pedicure (also with paraffin treatment), makeover and shampoo and style.

Now, all of this pretty much takes the whole day. And they start serving you that champagne early. (It was five o'clock somewhere, right?) And you know, I never turn down champagne. I sipped and they refilled my glass. We repeated this process frequently throughout the day. Now, as the day progressed, there were certain, optional services that were offered, for a modest additional charge, to compliment my package and make sure I was completely relaxed and thoroughly waxed, buffed and polished for my husband's vacation pleasure.

At some point during my massage, when the lights were low, the music soothing and I was on my, I don't know, third? glass of champagne, the therapist noted the knots in my neck. She recommended that I have my ears candled to clear out the congestion in my ear canals and the tubes in my neck...I think that's what she said. Anyway, I was very relaxed and said, okay, fine...sure, why not?

Now, normally, I would not lie still for someone to put a long stick in my ear and light it on fire. But, as I said, I was quite relaxed, and in a somewhat suggestive state. Also, she did put a flame-retardant shield on my head so my hair would not catch fire.

After she did both ears, she cut open the hollow candles to show me what had purportedly come out of my ears. Let me tell you, if this was on the up-and-up, it's a wonder I could hear at all.

After we got back from vacation, I Googled ear candling, just to see what I'd come up with. Apparently, this process is supposed to clean the ears and the mind. The massage therapist did not mention one single thing about vacuuming my brain.

In case you were considering having this done, the internet consensus is that ear candling is ineffective in removing ear wax, which is actually good for you. regrettably, there is no established way to measure whether your mind is actually cleansed or not. I personally did not feel as though my mind was any cleaner after the process, and I think my vacation activities clearly demonstrate that this was not the case. Nor did I come across anyone in my research who testified to having had their mind cleansed.

On a positive note, the only real dangers reported are having your hair set on fire (which, as I said, I was protected from by my diligent therapist), getting your ears burnt or infected, obstruction of the ear canal, and punching a hole in your eardrum. However, there is concern expressed on some websites that ear candling will vacuum your brain slap out of your head.

To be fair, I did find a few souls who subscribe to the opinion that ear candling is quite beneficial. One of them claims that, "It cleans the whole head, brains and all - they're all connected you know." And the massage therapist did have a certificate from, umm... somewhere...stating that she was licensed to perform this procedure.

It is somewhat disconcerting, though, to read just a few of the titles of the websites that result from a search on ear candling:,,,, and my personal favorite... (what the ?).

Anyway, y'all be careful what you let them do to you at the spa, especially if your package includes champagne.

Peace, out...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Little Too Real to Be Fiction

My sister sent me this story. I don’t forward emails…it’s just one of those rules that I live by that I occasionally break when I feel like it. This one smacked of reality, so I thought I’d post it. Let me state, for the record, that I do not condone drunk driving, do not personally believe that folks from Tennessee are any more prone to drinking than the rest of us, and do not consider “Hillbilly” a slur anymore than say, New Yorker. It’s all just geography.

Anyway, with apologies to any one from Paris, Tennessee, who might not see the humor…
From the county where drunk driving is considered a sport, comes this absolutely true story.

Recently a routine police patrol parked outside a bar in Paris, Tennessee. After last call the officer noticed a man leaving the bar so intoxicated that he could barely walk.

The man stumbled around the parking lot for a few minutes, with the officer quietly observing. After what seemed an eternity in which he tried his keys on five different vehicles, the man managed to find his car and fall into it. He sat there for a few minutes as a number of other patrons left the bar and drove off.

Finally, he started the car, switched the wipers on and off--it was a fine, dry summer night--, flicked the blinkers on and off a couple of times, honked the horn and then switched on the lights. He moved the vehicle forward a few inches, reversed a little and then remained still for a few more minutes as some more of the other patrons' vehicles left. At last, when his was the only car left in the parking lot, he pulled out and drove slowly down the road.

The police officer, having waited patiently all this time, now started up his patrol car, put on the flashing lights, promptly pulled the man over and administered a breathalyzer test. To his amazement, the breathalyzer indicated no evidence that the man had consumed any alcohol at all! Dumbfounded, the officer said, "I'll have to ask you to accompany me to the police station. This breathalyzer equipment must be broken."

"I doubt it," said the truly proud Hillbilly. "Tonight I'm the designated decoy."INT00077692

The Mother of All Stupidities

Let the record reflect that I went to Jazzercise four days last week, and took two body sculpt classes. That's six classes total. This week, so far, I've been to three (Jazzercise on Monday, Body Sculpt and Jazzercise yesterday). Today, it's raining, and, while I probably won't melt, why take chances? Besides, I have work to catch up on.

The new session of Personal Torture started Monday, and I am somewhat concerned about my personal safety, as I previously committed to The Queen of Pain that I would re-enlist. However, having wisely spent all my pocket money on Bushwackers at The Beach Bar, day trips to the British Virgin Islands, and over-indulgent meals while in St. John, I have no money left for Personal Torture. Sad but true. I subscribe with wild abandon to the "sha-la-la-la-la-la live for today" philosophy.

Anyway, to make up for the lack of torture in my life, I took a sucker bet. Demon Diane bet me she could get in fifty classes before me, starting on Sunday. She stipulated that she wouldn't count the classes she taught or her Personal Torture, and told me she was taking two weeks of vacation. Sounds like a no brainer, right? I mean, how could she possibly win that? So I took the bet.

What I did not stop to consider (and here's where the stupidity comes in) is that Demon Diane has an obsessive compulsive exercise disorder. She's a size four, who (the last time I checked) was going to Jenny Craig). She exercises in her sleep. She will crush me. As The Queen of Pain herself wisely inquired, "What was I thinking?"

I'm up to 3 classes. I'll bet she's at about, wait, if she took every class but hers, she's probably at eleven by now...

Peace, out...

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Here's A Cheer For Pot Stirrers Everywhere!

I live in Greenville County District 18. I voted for Tony Trout 4 times in the last election (I think--but I may have lost count). Three times in the primary and once in the general election. He is one of a handful of politicians large and small that I voted for and am still happy with. (That is not to say I would change my vote in other races if I could--only that I'm not completely satisfied with some of our other public servants.)

Tony has been stirring pots ever since he took office and I just love it! This country was founded by boat rockers, pot stirrers and rebels of every stripe. And like most folks who challenge the status quo, he has gotten his share of bumps and knocks. I say, "Way to go Tony! Keep right on looking under rocks. And if you ever need a citizen to request any information that the County Administrator won't cough up (but according to his quote in yesterday's Greenville News would still be available to Jane Q. Public under the Freedom of Information Act) give me a call. I'm in the book. I'll be glad to inquire."

It has been my experience that when folks are trying their hardest to make you look bad, you're asking questions they don't want to answer. Questions that probably need to be asked. And it takes considerable stockpiles of grit to live in the Greer area and shine the light in some of the places he's been poking around. Keep up the good work!

All y'all in Greenville County District your local Councilman.

Peace, out...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Four Weeks With No Dancing Makes One's Clothes Tight

Y'all may have noticed that I haven't mentioned Jazzercise in a while. That's because I haven't been in a while. This was brought to my attention this morning. Now, I did drag my VOLUPTUOUS self (I only gained 4 pounds on vacation) out of the bed this morning and haul it in to Body Sculpt (with Myra, The Caring and Nurturing Alien) followed by a Jazzercise class with Wendy(who is fast morphing into an alien--that girl is getting so skinny even her chest is flattening out). I thought I had gotten away clean--having been AWOL for 4 weeks, I was not eager to encounter Casey, The Queen of Pain.

But, as I was leaving the building, sweating...I mean glistening brightly in the sunlight, here she came across the parking lot like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven. The look on her face would have stopped a lava flow. It was cold...cold. We're talking cold as the strawberries in the very bottom of your grandmamma's deep freeze since three summers ago. And Casey is much more intimidating in street clothes and makeup than she is than in workout clothes, bare-faced, with her hair uncombed (which is saying a lot).

Fortunately, Carol and Alyce were standing there with me, so I was not dismembered and buried behind the building. Also, I had really, really good REASONS. (Family member undergoing surgery, vacation, vacation and...umm...brief vacation recovery followed by more vacation--Labor Day weekend is always family weekend in a mountain cabin.)

The Queen of Pain was not particularly impressed with any of the exercising I did while on vacation--snorkeling, hiking, and beach lolling. And I even told her how I used my Jazzercise technique of singing to get air in my lungs as I hiked up from Salt Pond Bay where we'd been snorkeling. (I sang Bye, Bye Miss American Pie all the way up that hill, and Jim still let me in the Jeep and gave me a ride back to town.) My sister informs me that, at the gates of Heaven, two people will get to go to the front of the line and go straight in: my Aunt Ruth's maid, Francina--this is a whole nuther story--and Jim. I'm not sure what to make of that considering Francina's quality of life.

Anyway, Casey and I have reached an agreement: She will let me live, and I will not be missing any more classes between now and Christmas.

Y'all hold me to that...

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Why I Hate Network Television

Have you seen what's on tonight? As I was sipping my coffee and glancing through the newspaper this morning, my eye fell upon the TV schedule. Because my frequent flyer husband is home and generally watches TV in the evenings, I checked to see what was on tonight's menu. Egad!!!

During the 8pm time-slot we get to choose (on network TV) between NBC's Football Frenzy (although to be fair, their website says it will be Outrageous TV Moments, episodes #210 and #211), CBS's Rockstar Supernova (which looks like a knock-off of the most irritating show I've never seen, American Idol--I know, I know, I'm the only one in the country who's never seen this show), and ABC's back-to-back reruns of the sitcom George Lopez.

The 9pm time-slot is where it really gets depressing. NBC: Back-to-back Scrubs reruns; CBS: Criminal Minds (This is the show where they dramatize the sickest things anyone can think up--and it gets really, really sick. I tried to watch this show once. It turned my stomach, and I'm not generally one who insists on Pollyanna and the like.) ABC:20/20 "Last Days on Earth." This is described in the TV guide as, "Seven cataclysm scenarios that could wipe out civilization."

Now there's a cheery thought. Someone should track the number of suicides among folks who watch that garbage. I mean, really, do we need to see all the ways Hollywood can think of that we might all die suddenly and spectacularly? With "news" like that, why bother getting up in the morning? Who thinks this stuff up?

And while I'm on the rant about TV "news", we were flipping through the channels last night and caught a few minutes of Deborah Norville's "interview" with Katie Couric about her up-coming debut as the first female solo anchor of the evening news. Debbie asked her, "What do you think is missing in the news right now?" And do you know what Gidget said?

She looked very serious as she replied (to the best of my memory), "I think what people want is some perspective. Not just for us to just give them the news, but to tell them what it all means." Is this chick serious? Can it possibly be that someone in the news media really did admit on national television what anyone with a brain has known for years: That the bulk of the media thinks most Americans are dumber than dirt and they have to tell us what to think.


Thank Heaven for Cable...and Netflix. And that we live in a free country with a free press where we are free to listen to it all and decide for ourselves what we think. Thanks, Katie, but I really don't need your perspective, no matter how perky you are. Just the facts, ma'am.

Peace, out...

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Hey Y'all From St. John

Okay…I was still there when I wrote this, but I couldn’t get it uploaded. Internet access in Paradise is not all that reliable…

Everybody has their favorite vacation spots. So far, St. John is my favorite place on the planet. Now, I’m willing to concede that there are an awful lot of places I haven’t been yet, but check this out…

This is the view of Cruz Bay from our room at Estate Lindholm.

And this is Honeymoon beach.
Notice that there is no one else there. My favorite kind of beach…gorgeous, secluded, and mostly private. It’s one bay over from Caneel Bay, where folks with tons of money loll about being pampered within an inch of their lives. I’ll take Honeymoon and my own private cabana boy (who I am legally married to) any day of the week.

Anyway, the reason I’m blogging from vacation…well, two reasons, actually. I needed to get out of the sun for a while, and you’ll never believe who I ran into just the other afternoon… No, not Kenny Chesney…I understand he’s on tour. But, I myself have personally seen The Chicken Crossing The Road. In the act!!

Her name is Henny, and she was accompanied by her friend, Penny.

One thing about St. John, everyone here is so friendly. So I just walked right up and asked her. I said, “Ah, Henny, you would not believe the wild speculation and outlandish tales that circulate back in The States about why exactly you cross the road. I wonder if you might tell me, so I could pass it along, what exactly is your motivation?” And do you know what she said? (We should have known.)

She said, “Susan, Penny and I are out hunting for our mangy old pair of Roosters. They’re out bar hopping in Cruz Bay when they’re supposed to be back at the coop taking care of their honey-do lists. We just checked The Quiet Mon, and they’re not there. Now we’re headed on over to The Beach Bar, and we have to cross not one, but several roads to get there. When we find their sorry tail feathers, we’re going to pluck ’em and roast ’em over a spit…or maybe see if we can get Uncle Joe to barbeque their sorry hindquarters, although he generally is much more particular about his chicken.”

So there you have it…straight from the hen’s mouth… Like so many women throughout history, she crossed the road chasing a sorry rooster.

And just one final question…why is it that no one has ever asked why the donkey crossed the road? I have to tell you, it’s far more common down here!

Peace, out…


Thursday, August 10, 2006

I Just Don't Get It

Can't somebody--CNN, Fox, NBC, CBS, ABC, AAA--anybody--give us some good news? I had resigned myself to $5 a gallon gas coming soon to a pump near me...just have to start drinking wine from a box to make up the difference in the household budget, right? (Wrong. Other corners will be cut.) Then this morning I awoke, as usual, to the phone ringing by the bed. Wherever Jim is in the world, he makes sure I don't oversleep. He's such a good husband. Anyway, the first thing he says to me is, "Now don't get all worked up about this terrorist thing." Worked up? Until he alerted me, I hadn't woken up.

You may recall we leave on Saturday for vacation. On a jet plane. Our dear friends (the next-door nuts) and my brother-in-law and his wife are traveling with us. All day, I didn't turn on a TV. I didn't need to. I was getting hourly updates from my friends and family about what I'd have to take out of my purse unless I wanted it thrown away, and what specific things people on the other side of the world were trying to mix together to kill as many Americans as possible. This is what I don't get.

I understand personal hate...I don't participate in it as a rule; it tends to make me tense. But I understand it. Your best friend steals your fiance, the pervert down the street molests a kid, a drunk driver kills someone you love. I get that. It's all this anonymous hatred that I just can't wrap my brain around. How can you hate people you've never met, who've never done you or anyone you know any harm, enough to want to kill them in as spectacular a fashion and as great a number as possible?

If you have some philosophical, politically correct, touchy-feely theory why terrorists really just need understanding and copious quantities of US tax dollars because it really is all our fault their lives are devoted to trying to kill us all, type it on 8 1/2 by 11 paper, in a twelve point font, with one-inch margins. Then, send your response to: Suicide Passengers - Dept. of Volunteers, c/o al-Qaida, Pakistan. Responses may also be sent via email to givehateachance@uranidiot.tbs.

I'm glad I got that off my chest. I needed a pre-vacation rant. Since none of the news outlets had anything positive to offer, I went looking for humor. Having no control whatsoever over the price of oil or terrorist activities, I decided my best course of action was to have a shot of levity. I have a folder where I keep the best of the jokes that make the email circuits. One of my favorite recent ones was the list of celebrity answers to the proverbial question, "Why did the chicken cross the road?" (Thank you, Demon Diane.)

As a writer, I was concerned about violating someone's copyright, so I Googled the question, "Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?" just to see what I would get. Apparently, he's quite popular, this chicken. I stopped counting at thirty websites that had everything from hundreds of answers to the question (organized by category) to sound-bites of various clucks, to instructions on how to do the chicken dance. Since all of the jokes that I received by email were posted on every site I checked, I figure they're public domain. If you've heard these, read them again. (They're silly, yes, I know...but I needed silly today, all right?) They'll give you a chuckle...and who doesn't need one?

Why did the chicken cross the road? (My favorite is the Jerry Falwell answer.)

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on "THIS" side of the road before it goes after the problem on the "OTHER SIDE" of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his "CURRENT" problems before adding "NEW" problems.

OPRAH: Well I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

PRESIDENT BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DONALD RUMSFELD: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

ANDERSON COOPER/CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am for it now, and will remain against it.

JUDGE JUDY: That chicken crossed the road because he's GUILTY! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad?Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain. Alone.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the "other side." That's why they call it the "other side. Yes, my friends, that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like "the other side." That chicken should not be free to cross the road. It's as plain and simple as that!

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life long dream of crossing the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together - in peace.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2006, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your check book. Internet explorer is an integral part of eChicken. The Platform is much more stable and will never cra...#@&&^( C \..... reboot.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken!

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Talk to y'all from St. John...

Peace, out...

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Very Good Reasons Why I'm Not Dancing

Okay, my exercise routine, my writing schedule, and yes, even my inner peace have all evaporated this week. An unnamed (because I can't possibly have children that age when I'm only 24, the official age of all Jazzercisers) member of my immediate family has been at MUSC this week. This unnamed but treasured woman-child had a hole in her diaphragm roughly the size of a small pancake through which several body parts had migrated into her rib cage. As you might imagine, this made breathing and eating rather problematic. Thanks to the highly skilled surgical team at MUSC, and their top-notch support staff, she is on the mend.

So of course I've been in Charleston and have a perfectly good reason for not working up a sweat of any description all week. But tomorrow I'm packing my VOLUPTUOUS self back in the Beetle and heading home to the Upstate. Just in time for my pre-vacation spa day. I mean, really, I can't go on vacation without a pedicure. There is nothing worse than scaly feet on a beach. And as hard as I've been working out (up until this week), I have a variety of calluses and blisters that need attention. In their current condition, my feet would clear the beach at Trunk Bay. Every other crazy person traveling to the Caribbean in the middle of hurricane season would run screaming from the beach like folks in one of those old 'B' horror movies fleeing from one of those giant Godzilla wannbes.

And these stress knots in my neck are just begging for the skillful hands of a massage therapist. And everyone knows that once you've paid for a massage and a pedicure, you really come out better getting the Full Day of Beauty package. The one that includes the champagne lunch. One must get oneself in the proper frame of mind before embarking on vacation in order to get the maximum amount of relaxation.

Then, of course, I'll have to pack. Now, normal people can probably pack for a two week vacation in an hour or so. As y'all well know, I'm not one of those people. It will take a least a day for me to run around buying stuff like sunscreen and filling prescriptions that would otherwise run out before we get back. Bad things happen when I run out of my medication.

Then there's the actual cramming of everything I might conceivably need for a two-week stay in St. John into two suitcases, one carry-on, and the largest purse I own. As y'all might imagine, I do not pack light. More than one Delta agent has helped me shuffle my belongings from one suitcase to the other to avoid having to charge me an extra $25 for having a suitcase over 50 lbs while my normally easy-going husband tries to borrow a gun from one of the airport police officers so he can shoot me and get off on account of being unduly provoked. Why is it that the Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared," and grown men foam at the mouth when their wives try to follow that eminently sensible advice?

Anyway, between the spa day, the shopping and the packing, I will almost certainly not make it to Jazzercise this week. But, I do plan on working out while on vacation. I'll let y'all know how that works out.

Peace, out...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Workin' Up A Black Sweat

Okay, Demon Diane like to kilt me on Monday. And you can tell how much she enjoys inflicting pain. She actually smiled when, after 25 aerobic songs she said, "Y'all didn't cool down any on that last one? Me neither." I think she's trying to see if she can make me pass out. I'll just go ahead and save her the trouble of that little experiment...she can. I hallucinated there for a while on Monday, during Workin' Up a Black Sweat (for those of you unfamiliar with his music, this is a recent song by artist formerly known as Prince, or whatever he's calling himself these days).

Anyway, so I recuperated yesterday by lolling in bed for an extra hour or so and accidentally missing class. This morning I accidentally slept late and went to Myra's class--the caring, nurturing and always entertaining one. She did not disappoint. We wiggled (one of her signature moves), we wobbled, and we kept our headlights on bright. But about midway through the third or fourth aerobic song, I noticed a trail of what looked like mascara dripping down the side of her neck and down on to her, umm...headlights. I kid you not. Myra actually worked up a black sweat. Not just a little one, either.

I was standing on the front row, and noticed it right off. Naturally, I was concerned by this strange phenomenon, not being sure that it wasn't the symptom of some exotic and highly contagious disease (she did just get back from vacation). I said to her, "'re sweating black." An instructor can easily hear you from the front row. Her eyes got great big. I was thinking maybe this was something else to do with her being an alien and all, but then, Casey and Diane don't sweat black...but then again, they don't sweat all that much, either, so it could be black sweat, and I never noticed.

Myra covered the whole thing up by saying that she had a new headpiece and it must be bleeding. Riiiight. I have seen instructors use new headpieces before, but never have any of them sweated black. If y'all don't hear from me, you'll know it was contagious...

Oh, I almost forgot...progress!!! I lost 2.4 pounds last week. Yippee!!

Peace, out...

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Paying For My Sins

My mother is the world's best cook. Really. I know what you're thinking...everybody thinks their mamma is the best cook in the world. But seriously, mine is. And she will stuff you like a Thanksgiving turkey if you pass within a five mile radius of her house. It is one of her many talents.

Sunday, we celebrated my brother's birthday. She made fried chicken--Mamma's fried chicken is so good the chickens get on a waiting list for her cast iron pan--mashed potatoes and gravy, squash casserole, fresh green beans, tomato pie, corn on the cobb, deviled eggs, cantaloupe and my brother's favorite, German chocolate pie. And even though it was his birthday, she made my favorite, too. Blackberry pie. And instead of plates, we piled PLATTERS high with that feast. Is there any wonder I am VOLUPTUOUS? I grew up in that house, for the love of Pete. I never stood a chance. I lived with that during my formative years. I am food-challenged.

In my mother's house, if you don't eat enough, she thinks you don't like it, and she gets this hurt look on her face. Who can resist? I wouldn't know where to begin counting the calories in that meal. And that was just lunch.

It's a two-and-a-half hour drive to Mom and Dad's. On the way home, our neighbors called. We have really great neighbors. They were making dinner for us. Just something simple. Hamburgers (about a half a pound each), corn on the cobb, chips and cobbler with ice cream. And of course we had wine with dinner.

I figure if I fast for a week, I will have averaged out my calories to somewhere around five thousand per day. Don't you know Monday morning weigh in was a treat? But...I was very good in the dietary department yesterday and today. I didn't fast, but I am bringing my average for the week down some.

As I told Myra this morning, I need help. We are going on vacation in a few weeks, and I can't get into most of my summer clothes. The shorts and capris are the biggest issue. I can stuff myself in, and if I use a pair of pliers, I can get the zippers up (as long as I am lying flat). But when I stand up, if the zippers stay closed I can't walk or breathe. This is a problem. As a pre-published and as yet unpaid author, I cannot afford a whole new set of fat summer clothes. I know I whined about this back in May, but vacation is eminent. This is a state of emergency.

So for the next few weeks, I have to be tortured or sculpted and Jazzercise every day...well, Monday - Friday. And I can only have about 1200 calories a day. If I am vigilant, I can get back into my clothes. The sad part is that, after all that pain and deprivation, I will go on vacation for two weeks. Now, no one diets or exercises on least no normal person...possibly the aliens do. Anyway, flying back on that plane from the Virgin Islands, you know that I will be once again busting out of my capris. I will come home and start all over again.

Sigh. I wonder if there is a name for this disorder?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Another Top Ten List

Hey y'all. My name is Susan, and I'm a Mega Moo Mocha Moolatte-aholic. It's been 98 days since my last Mega Moo. Also, I have not visited the Cold Stone Creamery all summer. And yet, my weight still hovers right at that #@! mark. What is the deal here? I've been good, really I have. I have Jazzercised, Body Sculpted and been personally tortured, all to no avail. My body positively clings to fat, as if storing it up for a long hibernation. I'm beginning to believe that it is part of my divine design to be VOLUPTUOUS.

Sigh...oh, well. Que sera, and all that. Anyway, my top ten list from last week brought to mind another:

Here are the top ten things you do NOT want to hear a Jazzercise instructor say:

10. This next routine is Pilates based. Joseph Pilates is a sadist, I tell you. This routine will hurt you today and tomorrow. It is the gift that keeps on giving. This is a good time to go powder your nose.

9. We're going to work our abdominals, with some arm work for free. Songs that work multiple muscle groups will not only hurt you, they will make you look like a spastic seal in the process, because they require entirely too much coordination and you have to think about what you're doing. Hey, I just want to dance. Put on some Nelly, would you?

8. On your knees. Nothing good ever happens on your knees except prayer, and we don't do a lot of that at Jazzercise...not out loud anyway.

7. Myra, this is your part. Now, this is something that an instructor (other than Myra) with the microphone says when Myra is taking her class and she wants Myra to sing. This is done for comic relief. Bless her heart, she tries. The last time this happened, eleven dogs were howling in the parking lot after class. Myra is the caring and nurturing one. And she is beautiful and thin...but the girl can't sing a lick.

6. Leg weights on around the ankles. This is never, ever good. You will be lucky to be able to walk to your car.

5. Don't forget to breathe. This means that someone looks like they're about to pass out. It could be you.

4. Keep dancing...Beverly will call 911. This means someone actually has passed out, but if you heard the announcement, it isn't you.

3. I'm going to the Caribbean (or Europe, or San Francisco, or wherever). Major vacations call for major toning. You will pay for her beautiful vacation pictures.

2. I've joined Jenny Craig. Okay, this chic is the looniest tune on the block. A size 4 woman who thinks she's fat (or that her derriere is fat or whatever, Diane) is TROUBLE. She will hurt you.

And the #1 thing you never want to hear a Jazzercise instructor say...

I'm getting married! Next May! (If this is July, she has 10 months to get as thin and toned as possible for her BIG DAY because the pictures will last a lifetime.) This is a dangerous woman. Avoid her classes if at all possible, because her workouts are your workouts, and she is on a mission. She will hurt you bad.

Peace, out...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Top Ten Reasons Why I Jazzercise

Jim and I just got back from two weeks in the North Georgia Mountains. We have an Airstream trailer. Now, just let me tell you that I am not one of those low maintenance, out-doorsy type females. Camping has never been my thing. The whole bathhouse ordeal...eeeyew! Not for me. Also not for me is sleeping in a tent. I mean, hello, snakes and all other manner of varmit could crawl right in there with you while you were sleeping. And don't get me started on the whole sleeping on the ground thing. But when my brother-in-law bought an Airstream, (you know, the big silver tube looking things) Jim had to have one. This is camping I can sign up for. It's like having your own little condo that you drag around with you. I shower in my shower and sleep in a bed more comfortable than the one in my house. TV/DVD player, satellite radio, CD player, air get the picture.

But in the far reaches of the North Georgia Mountains, there was no Jazzercise. Our exercise involved a lot of hiking. While traipsing through the woods, I had plenty of time to reflect on all the reasons why I normally Jazzercise instead of hike (or any of that other outdoorsy stuff).

Here are the top ten:

10. It is not necessary to watch your feet while Jazzercising to avoid tripping over tree roots and rocks. Some folks do look at their feet, it's true. But these are mostly the new students, and they catch on pretty quick.

9. If you need more water while dancing, there is a fountain right there in the room where you can refill your water bottle.

8. You will never sweat while standing still in a Jazzercise studio. We dance in air-conditioned comfort.

7. Outside the Jazzercise studio, there is no sign warning you that you are entering a bear habitat. No Ranger will tell you, "If you come across a bear, throw him any food you might have. If you have no food, don't make any sudden moves." Now, some mornings, Casey may snarl like a bear, but she'd never actually maul anyone. I don't think.

6. In Jazzercise, you will never hear someone say something like, "If that boulder were to come loose, we'd all be crushed."

5. If you trip in Jazzercise, people will laugh at you, but you are in no danger whatsoever of falling off a cliff into a rocky river gorge and splattering yourself all over the place.

4. In Jazzercise, you are in a class full of your friends, not on a virtually deserted trail five miles from the nearest road where cell phones get no signal when you pass an enormous French-looking guy wearing only a tiny Speedo, a pony-tail and three tatoos and you're scared he's some sort of weirdo-psychopath with an aversion to clothes who might just be odd enough to have a hankering for VOLUPTUOUS women (or their husbands).

3. There are no poisonous spiders at Jazzercise. Occasionally, there are the small harmless looking ones that Casey squashes and Diane whines about her killing one of God's creatures. Puh-leeze, even God referred to bugs as pestilence...HELLO, they were a plague...not a good thing. Well, okay, those were locusts, but close enough.

2. There are no snakes of any kind in a Jazzercise class. Aliens, yes, but no snakes.

And the #1 reason I Jazzercise...

If you have to go potty, there's a ladies room just off the lobby. If you Jazzercise, you will never have to look for a stand of trees thick enough to hide behind while you freshen up.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Wardrobe Malfunction

Yesterday I went to Personal Torture and to Demon Diane's Salsa class. PT was painful, but, except for Shona making us laugh telling stuff I can't post here, uneventful. Not so the Salsa class. Diane was ravishing in a halter style, asymmetrical hemline flouncy dress. She was perfectly accessorized, right down to the aerobic shoes. Now, one might imagine that someone Jazzercising in a halter-top flouncy dress might be susceptible to the dreaded wardrobe malfunction, but Demon Diane pulled off the set without incident. It was my wardrobe that malfunctioned.

A while back (just before the commercial was taped) Casey, the Queen of Pain, shamed me into purchasing several new Jazzer-outfits. It was high time, since I'd been wearing the same oversized, faded T-shirts and capris for four or five years now. We were both sick of looking at them, so I trotted on over to Target and stocked up on capri-length exercise pants and matching tops. These tops are more fitted than my usual long, floppy T-shirts, and the capris have a stylish foldover band around the hips in a contrasting color. The stylish pink band on my black capris was the source of the problem.

Salsa dancing is hip-intensive. The stylish pink band around my VOLUPTUOUS hips wiggled itself into an un-folded-over position, making my capris full-length pants in mid-chanse. I adjusted them as good as I could while tangoing, only to find that they slipped even further down during the samba. I wrestled with those pants the entire class. It was very distracting--I'm sure I didn't get my heart rate up into the green zone (the place on the chart in the front of the room where I don't have enough breath to whine and my life is passing before my eyes). My pants never actually slid all the way off, but had I not fortuitously worn a Jazzercise T-shirt which is longer than my new matching top, the twenty people standing behind me would have had a gander at my pink flowered Victoria's Secrets.

I missed class today all together, but I have a good reason, several actually. I had to go to the mall, there were things I needed and Belks sent me several really good coupons in the mail. Also, everything is on sale right now. Then, I had a dermatologist appointment, followed by a hair appointment. I didn't even get to eat lunch until Christie had my foils in. I munched on a Chick-fil-a sandwich while my highlights processed. Then I had to go pick up prescriptions, and by that time it was after five. True, I could have made Julie's class, but then I would have been too sore to make it in the morning.

Obviously, I didn't get a thing written today. I'll do better tomorrow. Y'all hold me to it!!

Peace, out...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Comments Primer

Hey all y'all who send me emails to encourage me, lambaste me for obsessing about flat-chested aliens, tell me how creative and smart I am, or to let me know that you are praying for me (and I sincerely appreciate all of the above): There is an easier way.

Here's how to post a comment (which will automatically be emailed to me):

1. Hold the pointer thingy over the word "comment" at the bottom of the post you want to rant about.
2. Click.
3. A new screen will come up. It makes it look like you have to log in, but don't be fooled--you don't have to create a login, etc.
4. Type whatever you want to say in the box under the words "Leave Your Comment". I would appreciate it if you sign the message, but you don't have to.
5. Underneath the line that says "choose an identity," click the radio button (circle thingy) by the word "Anonymous."
6. Click the "Login and Publish" box (even though you are not signing in at all). This will post your comment underneath my blog entry or the previous comment.
7. You can click on the "back" button on your browser's tool bar or click the line at the top of the page that says "the original post". Either way it may take a few seconds to see your comment, and you might have to hit the "refresh" button on your browser's tool bar (the button that looks like a piece of paper with the top right corner bent down that has two arrows pointing in the opposite direction).

I myself posted two anonymous comments on yesterday's blog while I was typing this to make sure I did it right.

I hope this has been helpful... Peace, out...

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Caring and Nurturing Alien

Okay, I missed Personal Torture this morning, but I had a good reason: Jim's flight got delayed, and he called to tell me he was coming back home and picking up breakfast on the way and what did I want. Now, it would have been rude of me to tell the man who pays for the Torture that I was so sorry but I could not take the time to sit across the breakfast table from him because I had to go squat against a wall and whine.

I did, however, make it to the 9:20 class. Myra, aka the caring and nurturing alien was on stage to sweat all those weekend calories out of us. She did a good job. We learned to tone a previously unknown body part: the back ta-tas. Back cleavage. She claims this is caused by a bra that is too tight, but if this is the case, why do we have to tone that particular area? It makes no sense. Also, she had us doing what looked like some sort of weird mass birthing exercise. We were sitting on our mats (all facing horizontally on account of her OCD), with our knees bent and spread wide pressing our inner thighs toward each other (in my case, not too far), and she was chanting "push, pull...push, pull." It scared me. I was having flashbacks from ** years ago when I gave birth to my only son. Childbirth is a beautiful experience. So beautiful, in fact, that I only needed to endure it once to fully appreciate it. They say you forget the pain, and I can only tell you that although I did not participate in natural childbirth, and encouraged them to pump me full of every available drug to make the process more pleasant, I REMEMBER AND IT WAS PAINFUL. So Myra, kindly take the birthing song out!!

She must be on some weird tear, because she also had something in her set that sounded like Russian folk dancing, but she swears is a German chick singing French. Oh, and Honky Tonk Badonkadonk, the country equivalent of Bootylicious. It was an eclectic set.

Gotta go write something... Peace, out...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I Didn't Sleep a Wink Last night

Sometimes I say things (or blog them) before I think. As a point of pure fact, this happens more often than not. This leads to the occasional regret. Like last night. I tossed and turned, worrying myself into a frenzy thinking I might have hurt some poor woman's feelings with my use of the insensitive adjective "flat-chested." I would like to take this opportunity to offer my heartfelt apologies to all grown women everywhere who still wear training bras. I promise from now on to use the more sensitive term: mammary challenged. All y'all beautiful, healthy, skinny, alien women please forgive me and remember that at the root of my teasing is rabid envy.

On to more interesting things. This morning in Wendy's (who is apparently not an alien because I'd guess her to be a C-cup) class, someone on the front row--it might have been me, I can't remember--suggested to Wendy that Shona should come up on stage with her for the funky song. Wendy, who of course had the microphone, thought that was a great idea. Shona was not so enthusiastic, but once we all started chanting "Sho-Na! Sho-Na! Sho-Na!, " and clapping and whooping like a pack of wild hyenas, she indulged us. She has such a stage presence, our Shona. She showed us the bootylicious, low-impact version.

I forgot to tell y'all yesterday my good friend and neighbor of many years, Deanna, got her 100 club T-shirt. For the uninitiated, this is the shirt you earn by going to 100 Jazzercise classes within a year. Yeah Deanna!! But she shamed me. I have been after that girl for years to join Jazzercise, and she finally did six or eight months ago. Now, on June 7th, she is getting her T-shirt, and I haven't even hit 50. (Yes, sarcastic little alien voice in my head, I know I should listen to you and behave better.) I'm trying! Actually, this week I have been to 5 classes, and it's only Thursday afternoon. Myra (the nurturing alien) was just patting me on the back this morning.
If only we weren't leaving town in the morning...y'all pray for me that I'll have the strength to control myself and not eat so badly that I pile every calorie I burned this week back on with a whole passel of their friends...
Peace, out...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Aliens Among Us

Proving once again that I am not the only person in Greer/Taylors, SC who has taken leave of their senses, 7 victims showed up VOLUNTARILY to personal Torture at 7:30 this morning: Little Bride, Sister-in-Law, Jersey Girl, Demon Diane (aka Hurricane), Shy-Town and Blog Girl (Moi). And, of course, Shona (I used to be a white girl). These are our Shona names.
Shona claims to have been born white and baked black by the sun. This may be true, cause she was singing country songs during class, and not too many bona fide Sisters like country music. She warned Demon Diane and Jersey Girl that they, too, would soon become irreversibly black if they didn't watch out. They sport nice tans. I don't know if they're gonna turn black or not, but they're both skinny, so I couldn't help but wish a few wrinkles on 'em. That wasn't very Christian of me, I know. But it's hard to think pretty thoughts about skinny women when you're Voluptuous.
Shona is Voluptuous like me. She claims that her man runnoft with a Big Girl, because Shona wasn't big enough for him. Brothers like big women, she says. So here is my question: Why is she submitting to Personal Torture, and why does she want a picture of Demon Diane to put on her refrigerator for motivation? There is nothing remotely Voluptuous about Demon Diane. I asked Shona to clarify this, and she said it has something to do with Diane's shape...her protuberant derriere. I have never personally noticed that Demon Diane had a protuberant derriere, but who am I to question a Sister's judgment in such matters?
Speaking of Demon yet another act of self-punishment, I stayed for her class. When will I learn? There is just something bad wrong with a woman who can dance till the sweat is positively running off of her--and I stand on the front row, so I can see it puddling up--and still have enough breath to cue every move with nary a gasp for air. Casey's like that, too. I have a theory on this: I think they're both aliens. This would also explain why they can eat and still be disgustingly thin. I mean, it could be all that exercise, I guess. But I personally would find it much more satisfying if they turned out to be aliens from some planet where all the women are disgustingly thin, beautiful and flat-chested.
Casey was lamenting her almost A's just this morning. I feel so bad for her, BLESS HER HEART. As I have informed her on several occasions, I would trade my ample bosom any day for her almost A's if I could have the rest of the package to go along with it.
Just now, as I typed that, this sarcastic little alien voice started whispering in my ear, "If you'd exercise like you're supposed to and stop eating all those Mega Moo Mocha Moolattes, you'd be fit, too."
Maybe, oh Queen of Pain...and maybe you're an alien.
By the way, for those of you with OCD, you'll be relieved to know that Myra straightened the mats during Demon Diane's class. Poor Myra...she could be an alien, too, I guess....she is thin, beautiful and flat- chested....and I have seen her eat...they're taking over!!!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bless Myra's Heart, She Just Can't Help Herself

I have OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I do things that ordinary people don't do. For example, when at home, although we have four bathrooms in our house, when I need to go potty, I always use mine. The one next to my bedroom. Not the closest one, mine. Towels are only used once (this drives my sister crazy--I think she's reported me to the environmental police). Also, things in our house have to be kept in their place, or I become very upset. I never claimed to be normal.
One OCD can pick another one out of the crowd at fifty paces. I love Myra, but I have always known that she shares my disease. If ever there was any doubt, it would have been removed this morning when she stopped dancing in the middle of Wendy's class to match up the hand weights.
At Jazzercise of Taylors, there are two racks of handweights, one on each side of the stage. There are only a few sets of 3 lb weights, because most people use at least 4's. This morning, there were 3 3-lb weights on one side of the stage and 1 3-lb weight on the other side. Myra stopped in mid-shimmy to repair this rift in the fabric of the universe. I so understand...
Wendy's just back from vacation where she claims to have over-indulged, a sin for which we are all paying. She hurt me this morning. Lord, save me from Jazzercise instructors trying to burn off vacation eating. Or those getting ready to go on vacation or get get the picture. I guess it worked out though, since I have way more to work off than she does. There are desserts from 1987 riding around on my hips.
My dream is to someday be to the point where I can only worry about working off what I ate last week. Peace, out...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Catching My Breath

Okay, I know it's been a while. But I have a trunk of reasons. And they're all boring, so we'll skip those. I'll do better, I promise. The Blue Ridge Christian Writer's conference was awesome! I got back home on the 25th and have been recuperating ever since. There was so much going on it was hard to absorb it all. But I had a great time, made several new friends, met some wonderfully talented folks, listened to some fantastic motivational speakers...and spoke to a terrific agent who agreed to read my first three chapters.
Now, for those of you who are not struggling to get your first novel published, you might not realize what a big deal this is. This is tremendously superb news. I am happy. Please be happy with me. All together now....who-hooo!!
Now the bad news...the food was good but fattening. I did walk a lot, and it was uphill both ways, but I didn't come close to burning off the calories I took in. When three full meals plus three snacks are placed in front of you every day, well pounds tend to accumulate. All of my hard work being tortured by Casey has been undone.
But today, I hauled myself back to the dance floor and also signed up for another session of Personal Torture...I mean Touch.
I signed up for the same class that Shona is in...oh boy, I haven't told y'all about Shona. Shona is the funniest person I know who does not have a microphone. She needs one. The first time I met Shona was in a Personal Torture class the day after Mother's Day. She was allowing as to how she made her children call their daddy's girlfriend and wish her a happy Mother's Day because she likes her and wants her to stick around (so the kids can spend quality time with their daddy, giving Shona a much needed break). I laughed till I cried when she was telling this story, but I can't post all the details until I check with her...she might not want it on the internet. But everything that comes out of her mouth is hysterically funny, so you want her in your Personal Torture class to help keep your mind off the pain and agony.
I've been giving some consideration to the possibility that I'm spreading myself too thin (which is why I seldom have time to BLOG anymore). I'm in three local critique groups, and just palled up with an online critique buddy who I met at the conference. I may be spending more time critiquing and reading other people's critiques of my work than I am actually writing. I am considering cutting back. Also, the thing I'm finding is that often the people doing the critiques have conflicting advice, which requires me to spend an inordinate amount of time deciding who's right.
SO...I'm getting myself back on track, and hopefully will be posting more regularly. In the meantime, on a serious note, y'all pray for Myra and her family. Her mother's real sick and is being transported to a cardiac care facility in Florida.

Peace, out....

Monday, May 08, 2006

A Writer's Dream

Last week was an exciting week at Jazzercise. Many highly entertaining things transpired, (about which I could write volumes) culminating with the TV folks arriving on Friday to tape the 8:15 class for a business profile spot. Sometime soon y'all can tune in to Charter channel 10 and see for yourself the high concentration of talent in the dance arts that thrives in the Taylors Jazzercise center. We even wore makeup on Friday so that we could look beautiful right up until the point when it all slid right off our smiling faces in a river of sweat.

But, I am so excited about where I'm at right now, that I'll have to tell you more about all that later. Jim (you remember my wonderful husband) is working in Vermont this week, and because I was working up to a huge pout about missing him and all, he brought me along. Now, Vermont is beautiful, and in the evenings, we will go out and have dinner and see some of beautiful Vermont, but the most exciting part for me is the hotel. Now, you might be surprised that someone could get excited about a Hampton Inn. But I do my best writing in Hampton Inns and/or Holiday Inn Expresses. Here's why:

Hampton Inns and Holiday Inns go a long way to attract business travelers. They actually have fairly nice hotels. The ones we stay in have beds that are at least as comfortable as the ones at home. They are insanely clean, and (most of them) brand spanking new, and because Jim spends more nights in their hotels than our home, they tend to treat him really nice.

There are zero distractions. My cell phone will only ring when I turn it on (unlike the one at home--and if I take that one off the hook, folks who love me come knocking on the door. Let me say here how grateful I am that I have folks who love me enough to care and come knocking. Unfortunately the ratio of calls is one from them to every ten from people doing surveys and such.) The peace and quiet in a hotel room is delicious.

Someone else cleans the room.

I cannot do laundry, run errands or battle possessed refrigerators.

Anytime I feel like a stretch, I can ride the elevator downstairs to the cozy lobby and get an always fresh cup of one of three kinds of coffee with my choice of flavored creamer or a cup of one of about twenty kinds of tea, and a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie (or an apple or banana). All of this is free.

I have my laptop. I have wireless internet access. I have peace. I have maid service. I have cookies. Life is good. I am wallowing in it.

Peace, out...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

I Feel Skinny Already

Thanks to Casey's little green book--in which every morsel that passed my lips in the last week has been recorded--and, of course her Personal Touch torture sessions which should seriously be considered for interrogating terrorists, I have lost 1.8 pounds in one week. Yippee!!
This in spite of the fact that I ate like a pig at the trough at a dinner party Saturday night. The day I turn down homemade cheesecake and strawberries dipped in chocolate is the day you will know I have been kidnapped and replaced by a clone. It just isn't going to happen. But apparently, I was careful enough the rest of the week that I still lost a little, even if I didn't reach my goal of losing ten pounds the first week.
The last week hasn't been a good one for writing. Too much static in my life. Also, I am trying--with limited success--to get my body to accept 5:45 Jazzercise. This means getting up at 5am, which would be okay if I could get to sleep by 9pm, but that's not likely. So, I've been operating on 5 - 6 hours of sleep which makes me fuzzy headed and not very creative. If my brain function doesn't stabilize this week, I'm going back to 9:20 classes.
Someone suggested that I should take one of Julie's classes, so I could blog her. Let me tell you, back in the days when I first started going to Jazzercise--over at the Faux Greer center--I took hundreds of Julie's classes. And actually, I have taken a few more recently in Taylors. Julie is a breed apart. Julie is hazardously perky. If the energy behind her Jazzercise routines could be harnessed and used to power cars, we would be forever free from middle eastern oil.
The danger, to the average Jazzercizer, is that that perkiness is infectious. It causes one to exert more energy than one actually has in the tank, which can lead to passing out. This has only happened to me personally twice. Just kidding. But all that effervescence does induce me to over-exert myself. I'm better off with the mean instructors.
Having given you the scoop on Julie, that only leaves me with two un-blogged instructors at the Taylors Jazzercise Center: Donna and Jenny.
Donna is Wendy's sister, and I've only taken a couple of her classes. She usually teaches at 4:30. She gets teachers after school's out. Most of these ladies, as you might imagine, have frustrations to work off. But Donna is the most serene of all the instructors. This defies logic since she is a school teacher herself.
Jenny is the newest of the instructors. She is one of those young women about whom people say things like, "She's just so sweet," and "Isn't she just the cutest thing!" Both of these things are true, but more relevant is this: she's Casey's sister-in-law, and is being trained by the Queen of Pain herself. Just wait. Remember what happened to sweet little Michelle when they gave her a microphone. It's only a matter of time before Jenny-the-cutest-little-thing morphs into Jenny-the-Jazzer-Nazi.
On a more sober note, it's been 27 days since my last Mega Moo Mocha Moolatte. Having discovered that there are 884 calories in one of these divine dairy and caffeine concoctions I have sworn them off. I resigned myself to ordering Starbucks venti non-fat mochas instead. Then I found out there are 375 calories in one of those. How do they do that? How can coffee and non-fat milk have 375 calories? I think there is a conspiracy afoot to make Americans fat. Extra calories (probably in the form of lard) are being stirred into everything we eat. It's the only explanation that makes sense.

Talk to y'all tomorrow. Meanwhile, beware the lard conspiracy. You never know when your physique is under attack.

Peace, out...

Monday, April 24, 2006

Michelle The Maniac

Shame on all of y'all who did not believe that I would actually drag my VOLUPTUOUS patottie out of my soft warm bed at 5:00 am to make the 5:45 Jazzercise class on a Monday morning. I was and the roosters and those folks just dragging in from an all-nighter were awake, along with a few other bleary-eyed dawn dancers. I might not actually have made it, even though I woke up at 4:19 this morning. I made a deal with myself that if I fell back asleep before 5:00, I wouldn't have to get up. I did not figure in the Michelle factor.
When I first met Michelle, she was working in the Jazzercise nursery. You know how some people are just as sweet inside as they are beautiful on the outside? (A Melanie Wilkes--only not as mousey--not a Scarlett O'Hara). This was Michelle. Butter would not melt in her soft-spoken mouth.
Then, they gave her a microphone. That does things to people. I did not recognize this at first. When she called me at 5:00 (something Casey put her up to on account of I made the mistake of telling Casey that I really felt like God wanted me to go to the 5:45 class because I keep waking up at 5am for no apparent reason), it sounded like sweet old Michelle on the phone. She was all "Casey told me to call..I'm so don't have to come."
Well, of course I felt like I had to, even though I had just nodded back off. I mean, she was so nice and all. I would have felt like I kicked a kitten or something if I didn't go. She might have felt bad about calling, and she's sooo sweet...
Well, Sweet Michelle did not show up for class. On stage this morning was her alter-ego, Maniac Michelle. With a microphone.
Maniac Michelle is a mean woman. She had us doing all those hyper-speed songs that look like someone has a Jazzercise tape on fast-forward. It's hard to be quick when you're not fully awake. Well, hard for everyone but the Maniac. She had no trouble at all operating in overdrive. And she was perky, of course, and well, still beautiful, which is especially infuriating when it's still dark outside and you yourself have porcupine head and pillow case creases on your cheek.
After the fast songs, she did a series of demented pilates pretzel routines and then, the worst, push-ups. To an Elton John song. Y'all know I can't do push-ups--I've explained the whole gravity thing before. The only thing worse than push-ups, is push-ups to an Elton John song. I really don't particularly care for Elton John. Actually, I used to, way back in the Crocodile Rock era. But his newer stuff is just way too gushy for me.
The Maniac nearly killed me this morning, but she gets and 'A' for entertainment, which is, after all the most important factor in a Jazzercise instructor. Does she keep your mind off the fact she's killing you with her witty repartee, sarcasm, and general stand-up comedy routine? The Maniac was quite adept at all that, and she sang karaoke as well. She's actually got a great voice, for a maniac. And she had the courtesy to sweat with the rest of us. I just think it's so rude when an instructor doesn't break a sweat.
Anyway, I got my workout out of the way for the day, so I have a lot more time to write. Well, until nap time anyway...

Peace, out...

Friday, April 21, 2006

I Hate It When Casey's Right

Y'all might have noticed, but the whole 'being accountable to myself via blog' isn't working so good. This became crystal clear when, on the first warm day of spring I tried on last year's capris. Having been hanging in the closet for several months, they had, of course, shrunk a little. You know how fabric tends to do that, right?
So I laid down on the floor and wiggled (Official Jazzercise move) into the capris. Although it made a blister on my right index finger, I was able to get the zipper up. It was a short lived victory, however, because when I stood up, the part of my stomach that flattens out when I lay down came crashing through that zipper. This was not a pretty sight.
Time for plan B.
Okay, so next week I start Personal Touch. This is where I pay money for Casey to cause me great pain and agony and also monitor everything that goes into my mouth because quite a lot of stuff is apparently sneaking in there when I'm preoccupied with other things. It's a month into spring. My summer clothes don't fit. I am a desperate woman. Next week, I will be a cranky woman.
I will try to focus on how good being not-so-fat feels. I would tell you that I will focus on how good being thin feels, except I haven't been thin since I was five, and I really don't remember. Wait, there were a couple of years in high school when I was in size sevens (and some fives). But I still didn't feel thin. I have been obsessed with my weight my entire life and I am frankly bored with it, which is why I have started ignoring it and put some of the weight I'd lost back on. I guess I'll have to go back to being obsessed.
This morning I went to 9:20 Jazzercise and Myra committed an attempted homicide by Jazzercise. I think she's sneaking in a couple of extra fast songs, because there was one point right before we started cooling down when my arms were tingling and I was hallucinating. I could have sworn there were two Myras on stage. It was probably just all the sweat dripping into my eyes. I think Myra got tired , too, because she stopped dancing and said, "I like to watch." Right. That's what instructors do when they've worn themselves out. They stop to watch and make sure we're doing it right. We're on to that trick.
Anyway, I have an addition to the list of Jazzer-body parts: taillights. I bet you can guess what that is. Today, we kept our headlights up and worked our taillights off. Peace, out...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

What Did She Say?

Okay, I know that song lyrics are poetry, and much of poetry is very deep. So deep, in fact, that many folks (like, well, me, for instance), can't fathom what exactly the poet is attempting to communicate. I have a lot to say about writing that no one can understand, but that's a subject for another day.
Sometimes, understanding song lyrics is made much more difficult by the music itself. This annoys me, because I really like to sing along. I primarily do this when I'm alone in the car, so not to worry.
But this morning at Jazzercise--yes, I did go today--the lyrics in Wendy's set were particularly baffling. I would tell you what they were, but I'm sure I'd be infringing on somebody's copyright, and we can't have that. Suffice it to say that one of two things was going on: either you have to be on whatever the lyricist was on when they wrote that stuff to understand it, or, the songs were the kind you have to play backward to understand. This is my theory.
I think that all Jazzercise songs have subliminal messages. Yep, that's how they keep you coming. Some of them say things like, "Come to Jazzercise everyday or all your hair will fall out." Others--and these are the most dangerous--say things like, "Have a Mega Moo Mocha Moolatte."
The latter type are the ones I have been most exposed to. Now, you might be thinking, why would Jazzercise songs have messages encouraging you to eat badly. It's not reverse psychology, although that could make sense. No, I think it's because if people like me keep sucking down those Mega Moo Mocha Moolattes, we'll always be, well, Voluptuous, and always need Jazzercise. For the rest of our lives. That's how they keep you coming back. It's just a theory. I guess we'll never know for sure, because I don't think there's anyway to play a CD backwards.
Anyway, a few followups: Yes, I know it's been over three weeks since my last post. You cannot believe how long the list of truly bizarre (but true) reasons/excuses I have. It's almost as long as the list of reasons/excuses why I have only been to Jazzercise an average of 2.18 times per week in the last three weeks. Excuses I have in abundance. But Today is a New Day!! I have Jazzercised and Posted. I will now write for a minimum of four hours, after which I will not reward myself with a Mega Moo Mocha Moolatte. (Sigh).
Two New Jazzercise body parts I left out of the list I posted a few weeks ago: Left Head (Myra's), and Hiney (Wendy's--I almost named today's post after Wendy, because that one rhymes with her last name, but I thought better of it).
I have a clean bill of health--all the breathing tests, xrays (once they contacted the girl at WalMart and found where they had been misplaced--another story) were normal. The mysterious spot on my lung was apparently invisible to the radiologist who said a cryptic "Impression is negative chest xray" in his notes. Now, I'm not sure if I should get that second opinion my sister insists I need or not, because I'm not sure this guy knows what he's doing: As I have explained before, I definitely have a chest. How can I test negative?
I have a new refrigerator--the Kitchenaide For the Way Its Made folks and the Jeff Lynch folks brought me a brand new one when the six month old one could not be cured of Spontaneous Defrost Syndrome. They also gave me a check to cover some of the spoiled food in the freezer. I highly recommend Kitchenaide. On the rare occasion they make a lemon, they definitely provide you with free lemonade.
On another positive note, I have been writing a lot lately--one of the reasons I haven't gotten anything else done. I'm trying to get the changes and final polishing done on LCB in case I can interest anyone at the conference I'm going to in May in taking a look.
That's about it for to you tomorrow. I promise. Peace, out...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Utter Madness

From Wednesday, March 21: My brand new brother-in-law won $100 in the lottery, so my sister (Sabrina) suggests we focus our efforts on purchasing as many as possible in an effort to retire to an island somewhere. But today isn’t my day to buy lottery tickets. Here is how my luck has gone: the repairman is coming back tomorrow (4th trip) to fix my 6 month old Kitchen Aid (for the way it’s made) refrigerator. The compressor or condenser or combobulator or something isn’t combobulating. Until this morning, only the freezer was on the fritz (intermittently). Every so often I’d go down and clean up a puddle of water and empty the ice maker, and then it would start working again. This morning, the refrigerator quit, too.

So, I hauled everything down to the old refrigerator in the basement (thank God we kept it for overflow, parties and such). I only lost what was in the freezer. Twice.

Then Sandra (my neighbor, one of my dearest friends, hereinafter referred to as my next-door nut) called, to say that Mason (our scrambled-breed dog) was running through his electric fence. We just changed the battery in the collar, so I was sure it was a break in the wire, which would have to wait until Jim got home—this I was hoping for even though I know this is a huge problem since Mason has been known to do such socially unacceptable things as tinkle on the neighbor around the block’s BMW tire (freshly washed). But no. His collar was missing—Mason’s, not the BMW guy’s. Sandra and I searched 4 acres, and no collar.

I called Jim, the man who promised to love, honor, and solve all my problems, even if he was two time zones away. He said, no problem, we have a spare in the utility closet. Great. I ventured into the giant mound of such items critical to household maintenance as a zillion batteries of undetermined age, No-sew fabric glue, and an MRE (one of those freeze-dried meals soldiers eat—don’t ask). I found the collar, and put in a new battery. Experience has taught me that these collars must be tested or they may either a) not work at all, or b) give the dog a three foot circle in which he can roam without getting zapped. I walked out to where the wire is buried, close to the edge of our yard. No beep. The collar is supposed to beep a warning, then zap. I went to Lowe’s (where we bought the system) to get a new collar, and happened to notice the ten year warranty on the package. We have only had ours for 2 years. I decided to raise a ruckus, as a new collar is sixty bucks.

The young lady at Customer Service, aka We Couldn’t Care Less, told me to call Pet Safe. I asked her, “How do I keep the dog in the fence while I’m waiting for the new collar?” “I don’t know.” She shrugged and turned her back on me. Not to assist another waiting customer, mind you, but to signify that I was dismissed. My good deed for the day is that I refrained from jumping down her twenty-something throat and stomping on her liver. Neither did I report her to the Authorities. I was way too wrapped up in my own psychotic episode to mess with her. Probably a good thing.

I appealed to the cute, nice manager guy, who made a phone call and then said he’d swap it, no problem. But I had to come back home and get the old one. Yada, yada, yada… got the new collar home, and, of course, at first, it didn’t work. Fiddled with it. Slammed it against the kitchen counter. Stomped it twice. Then, it beeped. Unfortunately, it was now in three-foot mode. I had to fiddle with the dial thingy to adjust signal, then chase down the dog who is smart enough to know he doesn’t want that collar back on. Finally, the dog is once again contained, and BMW's everywhere are safe.

Did I mention I had another flat tire?

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day for buying lottery tickets.

Beautiful Inside and Out

Friday Morning I over slept--due to studying great literature late into the night--but managed to drag my sorry tush to Myra's class (9:20). Myra, who discovered quite accidentally that she has been blogged, professed feeling pressure to perform, but delivered her usual entertaining fare. I should also mention, for the record, that, like all of the other instructors at the Taylors Jazzercise Center, Myra is--in addition to her talents with colorful language--also obnoxiously gorgeous. Inside and out. She's not like one of those blind dates that you go on where the person fixing you up tells you what a great personality the other party has (code for homely at best).

And I have to tell y'all, Myra, in addition to all her other many talents, is quite intellectual. I have learned a lot from Myra. Especially in he area of human biology (I'm sure there's a fancier name for that, but I don't have time to find it). Before taking Myra's class, for example, I was completely ignorant of the following body parts: side-butt, over-hang, and glootey-patootey. We work those parts on a regular (and painful) basis.

Something else I've learned is a completely new language. Myra is fond of Latin music. She loves to dance with a rose in her teeth. And if she doesn't understand the lyrics, she sings them in Myra-ese. I'm still working on the finer points of this modern linguistic marvel, but it seems to be a cross between Spanish and Southernese.

I'm telling y'all: there is simply no place you get more for your exercise dollar than at Taylors Jazzercise Center. Give it a try. Maybe I'll see you there. If I haven't over slept.